Midwest Memo: Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chrysler's car sales were up in April, as were Ford's and GM's. Photo by Ricardo Giaviti via Flickr.

Auto companies presented their sales numbers for April yesterday. Chrysler, Ford, and GM all saw an increase in sales, mostly in smaller, fuel efficient cars thanks to rising gas prices.

In yesterday’s Midwest Memo we shared that Michigan had set a new record for gas prices. Now, so has Chicago. The average cost for gasoline in the Windy City is at an all-time high of $4.44 per gallon. Ouch.

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Changing Gears and the Rock Hall Present “Living for the City”

Changing Gears is all about how the Midwest is reinventing itself, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is all about music and people. Adding the two together gets you Living for the City: Reinventing the Region with Music and the Arts. The community conversation will focus on how music and the arts are helping to reinvent our economy and region. We’ll also take a look at how to maximize the role music plays in the community and the economy. It’s taking place Wednesday at 4:30 pm in the Rock Hall’s Foster Theater in Cleveland.

The Living for the City panel will feature several prominent music professionals:

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The Return of Thunderdrome

This was the first of three events in this year's Thunderdrome series. Photo by Tim White via Flickr.

Last week, we previewed Thunderdrome, the party-race series staged in Detroit’s formerly abandoned Dorais Park velodrome. This past Saturday, over 900 spectators watched 134 racers compete on everything from mopeds to pit-bikes to track bikes. There was even a “tiny triathlon” that sent competitors wading through a muddy pit in the middle of the track.

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Midwest Memo: Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Gas prices in Michigan have hit a record high. Photo by Kristen Steele via Flickr.

Gas prices continue to go up nationwide, and in Michigan they’ve hit a record . According to GasBuddy.com, parts of Michigan are now paying more than $4.29 for a gallon of gasoline, partly because refinery problems are leading to a decline in gasoline supplies in the area. That’s not quite as expensive as Chicago, but still an eye opener in the state that’s home to American auto companies. Meanwhile, the Ohio Petroleum Council says the death of Osama bin Laden isn’t expected to push gas prices any lower.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has announced that Michigan is getting $4 million more to secure its border with Ontario, Canada through improved communications systems. The money is part of a larger effort to increase emergency response measures along the Canadian and Mexican borders.

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More Music! Your Midwest Nominations

Kanye West performing at SXSW 2011. Photo by David Wolf via Flickr.

We asked, and you answered. Here are more of your nominations for the Best from the Midwest. Any current band or performer with Midwest roots is eligible. (More suggestions? Post them in Comments.)

From Chicago and Illinois:

Kanye West is from Chicago, Illinois. He’s already received 14 Grammy awards, and often asserts that he deserves even more.

Rapper Common is also from Chicago and also has a couple of Grammy awards under his belt, as is Lupe Fiasco.

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Detroit Census Challenge

Hard to Count: The Barbara in Southwest Detroit

DETROIT — Imagine trying to prove that thousands of people exist, when you have no idea who they are.

That’s the dilemma facing officials who think their communities were undercounted in the 2010 Census.  But for Midwest cities preparing to challenge those numbers: How do you find people the Census Bureau missed?  We went looking for answers in Detroit. [display_podcast] Continue reading “Detroit Census Challenge”

Midwest Memo: May 2, 2011

Americans celebrated the death of Osama bin Laden outside the White House soon after the news broke. Photo courtesy of user theqspeaks via flickr.

The news of the death of Osama bin Laden broke last night. This morning, Northeastern Ohioans shared how they felt about the death of the man behind the 9/11 attacks on The Sound of Ideas. Lawmakers from Illinois also weighed in on the event, as both Democrats and Republicans nationwide praised the successful raid by Navy Seals. The economic benefits of this political success are already being felt: stocks are up since news of the death of bin Laden has spread.

Chrysler announced today that it earned its first profit since declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy two years ago. said it earned $116 million. The company also announced how it plans to refinance its debt, replacing loans from the United States and Canada.

April showers may bring May flowers, but they don’t bring many of the Midwest’s biggest cash crops. Farmers in Ohio and Michigan say their corn and soybeans may have to be replanted because of the heavy rain last month.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels says he plans to sign a bill that would slice the state’s Planned Parenthood program. The bill would cut $3 million in state funding from the program. Daniels says he’s doing it because he opposes abortion, but supporters of Planned Parenthood say the clinics provide mostly basic health care services, such as pap and STD tests.

More Michiganders are opting to take the bus, thanks to rising gas prices. Photo courtesy of Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio.


To trim the state’s budget, Illinois governor Pat Quinn is considering suspending one billion dollars in aid to local governments. But some experts say this may just be a move to convince lawmakers to let Illinois borrow $4 billion to stuff the state’s budget gap. That plan was initially opposed because it follows hikes in personal and corporate taxes.

Rising gas prices are leading more people to opt to take the bus in Michigan. But gas prices are also up for bus drivers. The Michigan legislature is also considering cutting upto $20 million in state funding for public transit.